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Quick Smoke: Eastern Standard Midnight Express Toro

18 Feb 2017

Each Saturday and Sunday we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

Eastern Standard

This line from Caldwell Cigar Co. is billed as the maduro version of the Eastern Standard line, with an Arapiraca wrapper. The Toro (6 x 52), about $12.50, that I smoked kicked off with a very nice spice for about a quarter of an inch and then settled into more common maduro flavors like coffee and chocolate. It burned slowly and produced a great deal of smoke, except at several airy spots where the smoke almost disappeared. I also had trouble with the wrapper burn throughout. Not a bad smoke by any means, but it required too much effort for me.

Verdict = Hold.

George E

photo credit: Caldwell Cigar Co.

Cigar Review: Foundry Time Flies 550

15 Feb 2017

foundry-timeflies

When large companies find themselves under assault from smaller operations with innovative products, the response is often to try to replicate what’s leading the attack.

Time FliesThink of Ford’s Pinto to compete with smaller foreign imports, or MillerCoors’ Blue Moon reaction to craft beer brewers, or any one of many similar situations.

In the cigar world, a prime example is General Cigar’s Foundry Tobacco Co. The division was created in 2012 under the now-departed Michael Giannini, who’d come to General after Swedish Match bought Ernesto Perez-Carrillo’s successful boutique brand that made La Gloria Cubana.

Foundry has featured nearly every card in the boutique deck: exotic packaging, silly and obscure brand names, baroque themes, limited editions, elaborate back stories about the tobaccos, etc. Additionally, General Cigar has moved some of its historic, if under-appreciated, brands like Bolivar, Ramón Allones,  and Temple Hall under the Foundry umbrella.

With Time Flies, Foundry joined in the collaboration trend. This four-size line, introduced at the 2016 IPCPR Trade Show, was created by Giannini and A.J. Fernandez and rolled at Fernandez’s factory in Estelí, Nicaragua.

With all that surrounds Time Flies—skulls, wild colors, aphorisms on the band, a $35,000 humidor—you’d be forgiven for assuming the line is just another gimmicky creation. In this case, though, I believe you’d be wrong. The half-dozen Time Flies robustos I’ve smoked are strong, satisfying cigars.

The regular release Time Flies smokes feature an Ecuadorian Habano 2000 wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and filler. MSRP on the 550 robusto (5 x 50) is $7.50, and the most expensive in the line is the 660 at $9. (There’s also a limited edition with a Sumatra wrapper, which I haven’t tried.)

The opening notes of the cigar are hot pepper, which remind me of some of Don José “Pepin” Garcia’s early creations. The volume lowers about an inch in, which is where you begin to pick up woody notes and dark coffee.

At the halfway point, the pepper reemerges and mingles with some cedar. Toward the final third, there’s some sweetness as well.

I found the overall strength to be on the higher end of medium, though it ramps up a bit in the second half. The finish is fairly light. Construction, burn, and draw are excellent, as is the smoke production.

All in all, I enjoyed Time Flies and rate it four stogies out of five.

[To read more StogieGuys.com cigar reviews, please click here.]

George E

photo credit: Foundry Cigars/Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: My Father The Judge Toro

12 Feb 2017

Each Saturday and Sunday we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

my-father-the-judge

This new offering from My Father Cigars immediately brings back thoughts of the early cigars made by Don José “Pepin” Garcia: opening with a blast of pepper; winding gradually down a bit to a creamy, rich taste; and building in strength along the way. Box-pressed and nearly covered with bands, The Judge, a regular production line, combines the My Father Nicaraguan filler blend with an Ecuadorian Sumatra Oscuro wrapper. At about $12, it’s a bargain.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: My Father Cigars

Commentary: Going to the Go-To

6 Feb 2017

Perdomo Lot 23

Get a group of passionate cigar smokers together, and it won’t be long before someone starts talking about an incredible cigar they had.

The conversation will then pick up, and you’ll likely hear about some limited edition Davidoff, an aged Cuban Montecristo No. 2, or a rare Padrón.

What you probably won’t hear is anyone singing the praises of their regular go-to selection (unless you’re the sort for whom Opus is just a daily cigar). For most of us, though, the go-to cigar may not be flashy, but it’s the one we smoke more than any other.

When I refer to a go-to cigar, I’m thinking of what you reach for when you don’t really have anything specific in mind, but want an experience you know you’ll enjoy. It’s the cigar you almost always have on hand and are willing to share, secure in the knowledge that it will satisfy just about anyone.

I have two cigars that fall into this category, both traditionally sized (5 x 50) robustos: the regular Perdomo Lot 23 Natural, and the original Old Henry.

Some long-time StogieGuys.com readers (with excellent memories) may recall that my first encounter with the Lot 23, a Toro that time, was less than stellar. But some years later I revisited the line and the Robusto made me a believer.

It’s not an expensive cigar. A box of 20 is around $90, and you’ll often spot price reductions online for five-packs and boxes. Construction and performance are consistent. It’s medium in strength with some spice, some sweetness, and a satisfying finish.

Old Henry is a house blend for Holt’s Cigar Co. rolled at the My Father Cigars factory in Nicaragua. A StogieGuys.com colleague reviewed the Robusto in 2008, and the following year I reviewed the Corona. At that point, I favored the Corona marginally over the Robusto, and I’ve since gone back and forth as to which is my favorite.

Like Lot 23, Old Henry is modestly priced. The Robusto comes in a cardboard box of 25 for about $100; the corona runs about $5 less. In addition, Holt’s almost always offers some sort of swag—an extra five-pack, a lighter, an ashtray—with a box purchase.

I try to keep a box of one or the other—sometimes both—in my humidor. And they often don’t last long.

George E

photo credit: Perdomo

Quick Smoke: Aging Room Solera Shade Fantastico

4 Feb 2017

Each Saturday and Sunday we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

Solera Shade

Part of Aging Room’s new Solera line, Shade takes its name from the Ecuadorian Connecticut shade-grown wrapper that covers the cigar’s Dominican filler and binder. The tobacco aging process—combining various vintages as they age before being rolled into cigars—was adapted from the solera method of wine making. The Fantastico (5.5 x 54) runs a little over $7. The first half is a slow-burning, spicy treat, later mixing in a syrupy sweetness. It’s an enjoyable, medium-strength smoke from start to finish.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: Aging Room

Quick Smoke: Winston Churchill Robusto

28 Jan 2017

Each Saturday and Sunday we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

Winston

Revamped a couple years ago, the Winston Churchill brand from Davidoff proudly announces itself with the company name and an iconic image of the British statesman on its white band. At 5.25 inches long with a ring gauge of 52, the Robusto is a bit larger than the typical robusto. And it is packed with flavor. It begins with cedar, pepper, and an earthy undertone. Some of the typical Davidoff “grass” floats in and out along the way, as does a dark coffee flavor. The blend combines a brown Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, a Mexican binder, and filler leaves from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. At $16.50, it’s not likely to be an everyday smoke for many, but if you’re looking for a medium-strength treat, pick one up.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: EO 601 La Bomba Sake Bomb

25 Jan 2017

Sake Bomb Box 1

With this addition to his popular La Bomba line, Erik Espinosa went small in size and big in impact. While all La Bomba cigars hit hard, this petit corona connects with a wallop.

Like its siblings, the Sake Bomb is a Nicaraguan puro, including a Habano wrapper. The Sake Bomb blend is said to have been tweaked to increase the strength. It sports the line’s trademark long fuse and a bright yellow foot band.

For those who like a high-powered smoke and find yourself suffering these days through the cold to enjoy a cigar, the Sake Bomb is certainly a cigar to consider. The length is only 4.5 inches and the ring gauge is 42. The MSRP is $6.75, though they’re often priced considerably lower online by the box of 10.

While it is the strength that stands out in this small cigar, the Sake Bomb offers more complexity than you might anticipate

Pepper and spice make an aggressive appearance—make that an extremely aggressive appearance—at the start. And they tend to linger on the finish as well. After an inch or so, the pepper becomes a little less persistent, and I found flavors of nutmeg and dark, strong coffee mixed in.

In the final third, the strength seems to ramp up as a tobacco sweetness comes to the fore.

Both the draw and combustion on those I’ve smoked have been excellent. It also burns slowly and produces a lot of smoke.

I’ve had quite a few, though by no means all, of the ever-expanding La Bomba line. And I enjoyed each of them. However, this little explosive device may be my favorite. It definitely knocks you around but not for so long that you’re exhausted by the experience.

I raise my glass to the Sake Bomb and give it a rating of four stogies out of five.

[To read more StogieGuys.com cigar reviews, please click here.]

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys